We are currently renting a house. We gave the landlord 60 days notice on June 1st that we will be not be renting after August 31st. We received no response to the letter from the landlord since then. Yesterday there was a notice put on the door that the house is being sold due to non payment of taxes. The landlord never contacted us. I called the county tax office and found out the auction is in September. We are very concerned we will not get our $1100 security deposit back. Can we hold August's rent of $1100 due to the circumstances? The Default section of the lease says “If any default is made in the payment of rent, or any part thereof, at the times specified or if any default is made in the performance of or compliance with any term or condition hereof, the lease, at the option of the landlord, shall terminate and landlord may re-enter the premises and remove all persons thereof”. It states in the Rent section of the lease that there will be a late charge of $10/day if rent is not paid on time. There is nothing regarding non payment and eviction. Can we send them a letter stating we know about the Tax Lien and we are withholding August's rent in lieu of getting our security deposit back?
Your desire to recover your SD, now seemingly at risk b/c landlord is apparently haveing cash flow issues is NOT grounds for you to live rent free in the property. You will have to take your chances with the SD and force LL to comply with PA laws regarding SD handling and return.
If you withhold rent, LL may sue your for on a warrant in debt. If you defense was that you "wanted to keep your SD and thought withholding rent was a good way to do that" you'd lose.
Contact a local PA landlord tenant attorney who can assist you in negotiating with the LL and explain what you must do to ensure LL has nothing he/she can claim as damages when you leave.
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I agree with most of Mr. Rafter's comments except we have no warrant in debt action in PA. It would be a Landlord Tenant Action to recover rent.
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I agree with Attorney Tupitza. Under PA landlord tenant law, you can not withhold your rent because you fear that you may not get your security deposit back. For all you know, he has your security deposit sitting in a bank account waiting to return it to you. You would lose any action if you took this approach. There are major penalties in PA when a landlord fails to return a security deposit in a timely fashion. You should speak with a local landlord/tenant attorney who can answer your questions in more detail. If you believe that your landlord might try and withhold your deposit, I would make sure that you are there when he does the final walkthrough of the property so that he does not nickel and dime you on the wear and tear damage to the property. If he fails to return it to you, you can file a land/lord tenant action at the local district court and should get your money returned to you plus some, assuming that you did not breach the terms of your lease agreement or have significant property damage.
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